I get asked a lot for a prediction for the next general election. It’s difficult to get away from saying the same thing as virtually everyone else: It’ll probably be a hung parliament and, more likely than not, Labour will have the most seats.
Still, as a bookie, I’m more interested in making good bets rather than predictions, and I’m growing increasingly keen on the chances of a Labour minority government being formed after May 7th.
Pretty much all of the forecasting models are telling us that a hung parliament is now extremely likely. Stephen Fischer’s latest projection made it a 60% chance. Chris Hanretty’s model now puts it at 89%. Ladbrokes’ latest quote of 4/11 is equivalent to a 73% chance. Despite most pundits and political scientists anticipating some sort of swing-back to the Tories from the current polling, the electoral system currently gives Labour enough of an advantage to make them favourites to win most seats.
Check out the excellent May2015 site which provides a handy comparison of the various forecasts.
Plenty of people look at the electoral maths and see an obvious opportunity for a Labour/SNP coalition, which has been very well backed at Ladbrokes. I think it’s extremely unlikely that the SNP would want to enter such an arrangment. Why would they want the hassle of being tied to a government which is going to have to make a lot of unpopular decisions? There is also the problem of the SNP not voting on England & Wales only legislation. An SNP/Lab coalition with just over 325 MPs might not actually have a parliamentary majority for that stuff. Either way, they are much better off sitting on the sidelines and propping up a Labour minority government for a while, in return for a few Scottish goodies.
A Lab/LD coalition is more plausible in my opinion, but at the moment it’s not clear that the Lib Dems will win enough seats to make that happen either. Politically, it’s not going to be easy for them to jump straight from a Tory led government to a Labour led one. I don’t rule it out, but I think some sort of confidence and supply arrangement would work better for everyone involved, at least for a while.
So, that leaves a Labour minority government as a highly plausible outcome. I’m on.